University chess clubs

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Alex Holowczak
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Alex Holowczak » Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:57 am

The turnover rate of students can often be a good thing or a bad thing.

The good thing is that arguments/disputes don't linger for 50 years. It also means there's a bit of variety, whereas local league chess can become a bit stale after a few years with no real change in faces, the University Championships have different teams periodically.

The bad thing is that it often leads to a lack of continuity, and students are - with a few exceptions - terrible at organisation. I know of one University that nearly didn't enter BUCA last year because they didn't apply for funding from the Union in time. Given the tournament was played in West Bromwich, and the university in question is Birmingham, and the entry fee was £20... :roll:

David Sedgwick
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by David Sedgwick » Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:23 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:The turnover rate of students can often be a good thing or a bad thing.

The good thing is that arguments/disputes don't linger for 50 years. It also means there's a bit of variety, whereas local league chess can become a bit stale after a few years with no real change in faces, the University Championships have different teams periodically.

The bad thing is that it often leads to a lack of continuity, and students are - with a few exceptions - terrible at organisation. I know of one University that nearly didn't enter BUCA last year because they didn't apply for funding from the Union in time. Given the tournament was played in West Bromwich, and the university in question is Birmingham, and the entry fee was £20... :roll:
In this context, the turnover rate is a bad thing in my opinion.

I don't accept that students are any more terrible at organisation than the rest of the populace. However, most clubs find some good people who serve for say eighteen years. They then struggle for a couple of years until they find their next good people. So on the whole things are okay 90% of the time.

University clubs only get one or two years out of their good people, interspersed with the two years in which they struggle, or even collapse completely. So things are okay 50% of the time at best.

As for arguments not festering for 50 years, don't be so sure. Alumni still remember them. Are you unaware that my periodic moaning about the scheduling of the Counties Championships National Stages has its roots in the notorious 1973 dispute?

Martyn Harris
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Martyn Harris » Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:38 pm

Bath in Bristol league
Birmingham in Birmingham league
Bristol in Bristol league
Cambridge have own collegiate league
Imperial in London and Middlesex leagues
Lancaster may be in Lancaster & Morecambe league
Leeds in Leeds league
Nottingham in Nottingham league
Oxford in Oxford league
Sheffield in Sheffield league
Southampton in Southampton league
UEA in Norfolk league
Warwick in Coventry league
York in York league

Also OU, which is a brand of Milton Keynes CC, play in Bedfordshire league

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Jon Mahony
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Jon Mahony » Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:49 pm

I remember about 3-4 years ago Leeds B went to play the Uni team away. We were met by one of their players in the lobby and asked to wait down there while they set up.

Now we were a bit miserable about going anyway, as the games were played in an over-lit, stuffy, meeting room, with no prospect of a pint after you finished you're game.

However, after we stood there for 50 minutes, you can imagine we were now edging more towards the pissed off side of things, as it was fairly blatant that all their players were late and they were sneaking them in through the back door (when we were finally invited up, they were all suddenly all there) :roll:

If it wasn’t for the fact I got on quite well with Andy, their captain at the time (and best organiser ever) I would have taken my players and reported 5-0 to Leeds.

Mind you we did unintentionally get our own back about 6 months later, when we forgot about a cup game and their team came to our pub on the other side of town, to find it empty :lol:
"When you see a good move, look for a better one!" - Lasker

Simon Brown
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Simon Brown » Thu Nov 27, 2014 1:05 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:I think your knowledge of BUCA is twenty years out of date. BUCA didn't exist at all between 1992-2010, and has been revived ever since. It has grown from 12 teams in 2010 to 25 teams in 2014. I don't see how this can be considered a "decline of BUCA".
I'm sure that's true, as I left Exeter in 1984. But from what I see BUCA then was more active than BUCA now; I recall large numbers of teams each year and an 8 board match against Germany UCA in 1982 or 1983, with a fairly strong line-up. Don't think there has been anything like that recently, though I may have missed it.

Graham Borrowdale

Re: University chess clubs

Post by Graham Borrowdale » Thu Nov 27, 2014 1:12 pm

I remember around 1980 Cambridge University provided virtually the whole of the Cambridge county team. Visits there were always to find no tables etc set up, in other words limited organisation.
Martyn Harris wrote: ...Also OU, which is a brand of Milton Keynes CC, play in Bedfordshire league
That club is the Milton Keynes and Open University Chess Club, with the OU providing the premises and the town the players. As far as I know there are no OU students among the membership.

I am guessing the decline of university teams is the same as the decline in the number of chess-playing 18-year olds generally. Students are only likely to start or join a university chess club if they already play.

MartinCarpenter
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by MartinCarpenter » Thu Nov 27, 2014 1:32 pm

Something I find very impressive is that some Universities - Sheffield University in 1968 and Leeds Uni in 1972,78 and 81 - have won the Yorkshire league. 11 Saturdays/year needed for that, and 10 man teams back when they did it. That takes serious organisation!

Nothing since, but nothing before either so maybe just back to historical norms :) None entering at the moment, but York have always had a few (current and ex) Uni players in our various teams, and a big part of Bradford winning the league last year were those previously mentioned very strong Leeds Uni players.

Venues are hard for University clubs because the top level organisation doesn't always take them that seriously. I've been part of a University team locked out of the cupboard with our sets in it before now.

Matthew Turner
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Matthew Turner » Thu Nov 27, 2014 2:46 pm

Graham Borrowdale wrote,
"I remember around 1980 Cambridge University provided virtually the whole of the Cambridge county team. Visits there were always to find no tables etc set up, in other words limited organisation."

During my time at Cambridge, Cambridgeshire had two county teams. One Cambridgeshire was run and populated by students and competed in the SCCU; They could normally field a strong team - something like 150 on bottom board. The other Cambridgeshire competed in the East Anglia region and might have a 160 on the top board. It is a shame that the student Cambridgeshire seems to have ceased, but thinking back it is all a bit bizarre that it ever existed.

AustinElliott
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by AustinElliott » Thu Nov 27, 2014 3:26 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:Here are the Universities that play in Leagues - I will no doubt have forgotten plenty:

...Manchester League: Manchester University (but they've never even expressed an interest in BUCA, let alone played in it!)
As Mick Norris noted above, the Manchester University club dropped out of the M'cr League mid-season a couple of years back, and have not returned. Organisational aspects, of the kind noted in various comments above, and money were both issues, as I hear it. As students mostly don't run cars, transport to away games was a regular issue too, and it was common for the Uni side to default one or more boards for away fixtures in the more 'distant' locations.

Despite exiting the M'cr League, I'm aware that the University Chess Club continues to be active organising club nights, rapid tournaments and even lectures and coaching. However, the impression I have is that it tends to be only a small sub-group of their membership (almost entirely people who have played league or tournament chess pre-Uni) that are interested in playing local evening league chess. These people easily find homes for League chess in other clubs around Manchester - for instance, Denton Chess Club in Manchester are currently fielding several of the University's best players.

MartinCarpenter
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by MartinCarpenter » Thu Nov 27, 2014 3:46 pm

Chorlton definitely got a few while I was in Manchester, maybe more people working at the Uni than students though. Its almost the 'local' club :( Did briefly play for them as a student a bit back, bit they weren't in good health then either. Low division etc.

AustinElliott
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by AustinElliott » Thu Nov 27, 2014 3:49 pm

MartinCarpenter wrote:Chorlton definitely got a few while I was in Manchester, maybe more people working at the Uni than students though. Its almost the 'local' club :( Did briefly play for them as a student a bit back, bit they weren't in good health then either. Low division etc.
We haven't any Uni students playing at Chorlton now - as so much of the student pop'n is based in the city centre now, I think Chorlton might feel rather 'distant'..! We do have several Univ employees (including me).

Dewi Jones
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Dewi Jones » Thu Nov 27, 2014 5:22 pm

Bangor uni play in the Gwynedd league.

Alan Walton
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Alan Walton » Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:06 pm

I played for Bangor University back in 1994/95 season, after that season we decided to close the club down and decided to all play for Bangor club instead

Good to see it rejoined

David Robertson
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by David Robertson » Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:24 pm

Surely the point of interest must be, not that there are so few University chess clubs today, but so many.

Chess has only ever been available, post-11, in independent or state selective schools. Forty years ago, roughly 33% of all young people were educated therein. Today, it's roughly 11%. So you'd expect to find a diminished number of 18-21 year old chess players in those universities admitting a disproportionate number of students from independent and state selective schools. And that, unsurprisingly, is what you do find.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:35 pm

David Robertson wrote: Chess has only ever been available, post-11, in independent or state selective schools.
Chess clubs continued to thrive after 1970 in Comprehensive Schools and thus in Universities. Most selective schools had disappeared by 1975, but the boom in English chess and a long list of talented players continued long after that.

I suppose it's possible that an egalitarian attitude by teachers, contemptuous of competitive activity, began to have a malign effect.

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